6/30/2011

Our True North Strong and Free

We Canadians would rather flag a taxi than fly a flag.

We'll happily put little paper flags in planters and tree stumps on July 1st, but we will rarely be caught hanging a big, real one from the front porch. And for the entire summer?? Unh unh, not gonna happen.
Somewhere in between the War of the Roses and the War of 1812, it got sorted out that those, those.. people...who didn't end up on God's fair isle were fated to go to that vast empty Hinterland  beyond the realm and across the pond  to preserve  His (or Her) Royal Majesty's majesty. And they gave their word to do so  with appropriate decorum and dignified deportment.


It was further decreed that the Masses of the Hinterland  (MoH's) would not bump into people, pets or inanimate objects. And if they did so, they would say, " I'm sorry." And, if the people, pets, or inanimate objects bumped into them, then the MoH's would say, "OH! I'm sorry!"

In the event of  a disagreement with anyone about anything, then the MoH must quickly defer, and say, "Oh.Well then. Of course, you must be right." And if, in the rare circumstance, that it was absolutely certain that the MoH was indeed, right, then the MoH must say, "Oh dear. Well, I am sorry. But, uh, I am right. Sorry!"

We're such a sorry lot. Why people from away even make fun of us for saying sorry so much, for being so friendly,  so polite, so forgiving. Not for us the dropping of a ball at midnight, nor the thunderous ride through tiny towns with a lantern. Nope..too attention-getting. Too dramatic. Too much like  a TV mini-series.

No, we didn't run with bulls anywhere, either. (Rode them, yes, but only when at the Calgary Stampede.)  But we did  name a chocolate shop after a woman who did try to warn HRM's troops about a possible invasion from below the 49th parallel. Laura Secord is sweetly remembered every Easter and Mother's Day in The Hinterland.

And when Nature is your daily guide, over time you learn to take note and you start to see things  a bit differently.


No. We don't do self aggrandisement well.  We may brag from time to time, but it's usually not about the nation as a whole, it's about individual accomplishments..like Terry Fox, Wayne Gretzky, Shania Twain, Guy Lombardo (yes, sorry, he's Canadian), Alexander Graham Bell (ring a ding ding), Dr Banting  (insulin treat for your diabetes), Thomas Edison (light's on), John Hopps (please tell airport security if you have a pacemaker), Peter Robertson (screw this in tight), Gideon Sundbeck (here, zip me up please)..and of course, things like Canada Dry, Canadian Club, Poutine and Beavertails (yum to the last four). And Blackberry (not the one you eat, though, there's a thought)
No, we don't like to show our official colours (red and white) because we are so much more than that.

In 1967 a book was published entitled Call Them Canadians. A table top anthology of poems, prose and pictures that attempted to define a Canadian.
One short poem has always stuck in  my mind by poet Miriam Waddington:
We are not one but two,
We are not two but four.
We are not four but many.
And sometimes,
We are not any.

It's the song my paddle sings, it's my canoe, it's my kayak. And while I ply the waters of this land, it's the songs I hear of the lonesome Loon, the Whip-poor-will,  the howling wolf, and the little Song Sparrow.



This is a land and a place that people have been trying to define and then subjugate for 600 years, but they still haven't quite  managed to..yet. And it's because of the weather.
It's , "It's 40 below, got a heater in my truck, and I don't give a F#*k, and I'm off to the Rodeo!" Who would write a song like that?? unless they've been to Canada in January.

We got used to the Hinterland. Embraced it. Made "Canada's Hinterland Who's Who" a Monday night favourite on TV. It's still running, http://www.hww.ca/index_e.asp and celebrating Canada's  incredible nature. But that 's not all that's uniquely quirky about us...there's also Bob McDonald's Quirks and Quarks..a radio show about science --that people tune in to CBC Radio to listen to! And speaking of CBC...no matter where you are in Canada, you can get CBC. Everyday. Same friendly voices, same earnest commentary, same silly jokes, same breaking world news. Essential in a country that has five time zones and half an hour later in Newfoundland.

                                                     What a place!

                                                       I'm sorry.

I can't define it.
But it is me.
A Place within me.
Shaping how I see the world around me,
and how I wish the world to see me.

This weary old world could use a little more Canada.

Happy Birthday!


5 comments:

faye said...

Great post...
I stayed in Vancouver BC for
awhile and I would have lived there
forever , if only ....
Happy Canada Day !!!

Red said...

Love your post! You really pour your heart out. I like your description of Canadians. I really like the kind of people you describe. The world would be much better off with more people like you describe.
Happy canada Day to you.

robin andrea said...

A wonderful homage to your country. I wish I lived in Canada.

DUTA said...

Canada looks and sounds like a wonderful country. Its people are very patriotic as it can be seen from their blogs.
I wish Canada and its people nothing but THE BEST!

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely tribute to Canada. I love my 16 acres. No citiots, no tourists, just good kind, caring people we keep around us.